Huddle-Up: Cowboys' Weapon Is A Lance
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A LANCE IS A WEAPON: Our Mark Lane with a 1-on-1 visit with Lance Dunbar:
Third-year running back Lance Dunbar missed the final four games of last season with a posterolateral corner injury in his left knee. Appearing with Dallas Cowboys teammates cornerback Brandon Carr and tight end James Hanna at a boxing fundraiser for The Gatehouse at Title Boxing Company in Plano, Dunbar spoke assuredly that his left knee had recovered.
"My health is doing good," Dunbar said. "It's outstanding. I've been working all off-season trying to get back healthy. I've been working on my health. I think I'm at a point right now at 100%."
Questions about Dunbar's durability exist, and they have little to do with his left knee injury. Before Thanksgiving, the North Texas alumnus missed three games with the infectious hamstring injury of 2013, and appeared on the injury report seven times during his nine games played.
However, Dunbar reports no pain whatsoever in his practices and workouts.
"I've been doing everything all off-season without any pain, without any problems,'' he said. "I haven't had any problems. I'm looking forward to the season."
The Dallas Cowboys signed veteran running back Ryan Williams on May 17th as another ballcarrier in the Cowboys stable. With Joseph Randle now entering his second season and hopefully taking the next step in his game, the question arises as to whether Lance Dunbar sees Williams as competition behind starter DeMarco Murray.
"I don't look at it that way," Dunbar said. "I just go out there and do my best and do what I got to do so I won't have any problems. So, I won't lose my job myself."
Perhaps the Williams signing doesn't generate any heat for Dunbar because the 2011 second-round pick has only played five games out of the possible 48 in his career. Williams must shake the "injury prone" label before he can challenge Lance Dunbar or even Joseph Randle.
Still, Dunbar remains supportive of his new teammate.
"I guess it's a good pickup,'' he said. "We're always looking for guys to come in and contribute. It's the way our business is to bring someone in and compete. So, we'll see what happens."
Instead of health and newly-acquired teammates, Dunbar's focus heading into training camp has been on the mental aspects of the game. According to Dunbar, reading the playbook and watching film are things he is improving to bolster his game from a mental standpoint.
More than likely, the competition question will be answered, though durability remains to be seen. The Cowboys see him as a unique weapon, a Reggie Bush Lite, if you will. If all that is left for Dunbar is the mental aspects of the game, he should be a nice change of pace running back for Linehan's offense.
THE ROLANDO RISK: KD does a terrific job analyzing the trade for Rolando McClain in terms of what he brings to the table. (Or doesn't.) Colleague Todd Archer brings the complicated details of the low-price swap here.
And my contribution to the conversation, for the moment, is this: It's zero risk today. But that "zero'' inflates once we get to camp, once he knocks off the rust, once he screws his head on. Because it is at that time when this elite talent will outplay the two kids at the Mike and will win the job.
And THEN you will be relying on him.
And THEN the risk kicks in.
KEEP IT HERE!: More Cowboys off-season thrills and chills throughout the days leading up to Oxnard. Keep it here on CowboysHQ as we will keep you posted in a variety of ways from inside Valley Ranch ... Here on the HOME page, here on CowboysHQ Discussion Boards, and on Twitter, where we encourage you to follow Mike Fisher, KD Drummond, Mark Lane and Jordan Ross along with our 105.3 The Fan colleague Bryan Broaddus.
SEAN LEE UPDATE: I spoke to some folks late last night who are close to Sean Lee and the report is all thumbs-up.
Now, he's still on season-ending IR. But I'm told the swelling is gone, the knee looks great, some machinery has been installed in his house to aid with recovery and rehab is ready to roll.
There is the very real possibility, Lee's guys tell me, that by the end of this calendar year, he's "Sean Lee again.''
One more time: This does NOT impact his availability for 2014. But it is good news for 2015, and let's admit it: Sean Lee could use some good news.
NO MORE GOLF?: Tony Romo says he's done with golf and has been for a while.
OK, well, let's go with it.
The Morning News writes, "Golf has never been the distraction for Romo that some have portrayed it to be through the years.''
OK, well, you might not want to go with that.
I've never had a problem with it. Other guys go bowling or fishing or square dancing. In that sense, golf isn't a problem. Let's get rid of the word "distraction'' because that doesn't fit; it's never been a "distraction'' and in fact I argue that if it's Romo's way of clearing his head, or unwinding on a day off, or socializing with his pals ... golf is a plus.
But what we'll never know is how much the stress golf can put on your back -- the twisting and the torque -- was (not a "distraction'' but simply) a "negative.''
But now Romo pledges that golf will never been an issue again during his playing career.
JAKAR AND DEION: Jakar Hamilton's jump-out moment from his 2013 rookie season? ‘At one point I made a tackle on Calvin Johnson,' the Cowboys safety says. ‘But if I had done one little thing differently, I could have intercepted it. It's a game of inches. That's what I'm working on this year - knowing what to do and making it second nature.'
CowboysHQ has the Jakar exclusive - and the news he's hooking up with Deion -- here.
FISH ON 'THE FAN': Hear "Fish on The Fan'' with tonight from 7-11 and on July 4 from 3-7 p.m. - on THE Cowboys Station, 105.3 The Fan!
ONSIDE KICKS: Does Dallas employ one of the top-three throw-and-catch combos in the NFL? ... Felix Jones wants to play football and to prove it's not just Jerry working unilaterally in the personnel department, no, Felix won't be playing football here ... Hey, Johnny Jolly is available. But how much would you like to bet me that he's about to be embroiled in a "behavior-related'' issue that might keep him out of the NFL?
QB INSURANCE: Rick Gosselin says Dallas is "doomed'' if Romo is hurt in 2014, and tries to use a calculator to prove it. Goose writes:
There isn't a team in the NFL that wants to play its backup QB. With or without Orton, the Cowboys are doomed if Tony Romo goes down in 2014.
Last season, the quarterbacks of choice in the NFL — the opening day starters — won 54.2 percent of their games. When NFL teams had to go to the bench for a replacement, they managed to win only 35 percent of the time.
What he's missing, of course, is that some of those 35-percenters are going to remain in playoff contention, at least for a time, if they mitigate their injury loss (at every position) with a capable backup. So while Rick attempts to use math to insist that it doesn't matter if Dallas has a good backup QB, the reverse is actually true: Last year, 23 of the 32 teams finished within a game of .500. The first base goal is to be in that group. Those weren't 23 injury-free teams because that's impossible.
They were 23 teams that insured themselves against injury and gave themselves the sort of legit chance Orton gave Dallas in Week 17 last year.
Whether it's Orton or Weeden, the Cowboys need that insurance so they have that chance.
THE FINAL WORD: July 4 is upon us. Which means we are 24 hours away from Johnny Manziel posing for drunken party pictures, 48 hours away from him posting the pictures on social media, and 72 hours away from bitching that you have the nerve to look at the pictures.
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